What’s for supper? Vol. 104: I put the fannie in Fannie Farmer

The theme for the week is YOUR FRIEND BUTTER. Butter is your friend. Don’t listen to your doctor. Your doctor is DOO-DOO. You need more butter!

And you also need my pal Fannie Farmer. This week, what with the cold and the colored leaves and the swirling mists and the ennui, I found myself turning again and again to this cookbook I’ve been using for over twenty years now. Good old Fannie taught me how to roast pork ribs, how to make pie crust and pie filling, how to wait for the onions in onion soup, and so much more.

Fun fact: The author, Marion Cunningham, was briefly married to a then-unknown Thurgood Marshall when they were both teenagers. The couple broke up within days of the wedding, apparently after a bitter all-night dispute over rigatoni.

That’s . . . that’s not true. I’m sorry.

Short version of what we had this week: Butter.
Long version:

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, carrots and hummus

I have no memory of Saturday.

***

SUNDAY
Chicken pecan salad; apple pie

They keep asking for this dish, so I keep making it.

Coat chicken breasts in oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them in the oven, then cube the meat. Serve over greens with dried cranberries, toasted pecans (or almonds or walnuts), crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese, diced red onions, and some kind of sweet vinaigrette. This time we had pomegranate. I burned the nuts, but they were still good.

I finally got around to making a pie, long after we ate up all the apples we picked at the orchard. I used the Fannie Farmer pie crust, but used butter instead of shortening. I also did the trick of freezing the sticks of butter for half an hour and then shredding them with a cheese grater. This does 90% of the work of incorporating the fat into the flour without overworking it, and this crust turned out light and supple without sacrificing taste. It won’t work on Thanksgiving, though. It only works if I make a pie for no particular reason. On Thanksgiving, my pie crust will be doo-doo.

I rolled out the dough for the top crust and turned it over to the kids, who used Halloween cookie cutters to make a pie of great spooooookiness.

They used kind of a lot of them, so it has sort of an indeterminate “well of souls” look, I guess.  I wet the crust a bit and sprinkled sugar on the top, also spooky. You could also brush on a little beaten egg white to give it some gloss, if you’re into that.

***

MONDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, rice, mashed butternut squash, apple pie

A very fine autumn meal

and still the best way to prepare pork ribs indoors. Just plenty of salt and pepper and a very hot oven and turn the ribs once, until they are browned. So juicy and easy. Be a meat hero!

For the squash, I cut them in half, scooped out the pulp and seeds, and just cooked them as-is in a medium oven until they were soft, maybe 30 minutes or so. Peeled off the skin and mashed the squash up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cozy.

The kids were by far most excited by the rice, which I cooked in beef broth instead of water. This is their idea of Ultimate Fanciness.

We had an entire leftover pie from Sunday! I don’t understand what is happening to our family. “Leftover pie.” Clarification?

***

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday! and corn chips

I learned from previous weeks that too much cumin can make your taco meat taste like angry dirt, so I eased up on the cumin and added plenty of salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.

The iceberg lettuce I was saving turned out to be cabbage. So I shredded that, and it was fine. Our fridge has a trick of freezing everything in back, and it turns out sour cream does not recover from being frozen. It gets separated and mealy, bleh. But we did have tomatoes and plenty of cheese, plus jarred jalapeno rings. Good enough for the likes of us.

***

WEDNESDAY
Onion soup, Italian sausages, beer bread

Just sausages! I really wanted onion soup, but a significant faction in the family needs to have meat. A few pounds of sweet Italian sausages in the pan, and there it was: Supper.

I absolutely love this simple onion soup recipe. I used about 6-7 pounds of yellow onions and just acres and acres of butter. I used beef broth instead of water (skip the salt if you use broth), and tons of pepper and Parmesan cheese at the end. Nothing to it, and it doesn’t look like much, but it’s so good.

Beer bread is another recipe I won’t shut up about. It’s so easy, a . . . a . . . I don’t know, a naked toddler could make it.

You don’t need quite as much butter as the recipe says (and it’s not strictly necessary to bathe in the flour, either), but as long as you don’t be a big lazy baby and you take the time to sift, this bread comes up fluffy and golden and moist every time, with a gorgeous cobbled crust.

It’s much less crumbly and cake-like and more chewy and bread-like than most quick breads. And you can make it all in one bowl. Mix up the dry, add the beer, stir it up and chunk it in the pan. It says to bake an hour, but start checking at 40 minutes or so. It has an earthy, slightly honeyed taste. (This varies with the beer, of course. I used Narragansett.)

***

THURSDAY
Grilled cheese with ham and apple

Extremely popular here. They didn’t even ask if there were chips coming. (There were not.)

I put a layer of cheddar cheese top and bottom, with the ham and apples in the middle, and then put the sandwiches in the oven for a bit after grilling, to make sure it’s all melted. I have been using this wonderful sourdough bread from Aldi lately. It’s perfect for grilled sandwiches.

We make our grilled sandwiches with a thin layer of mayo on the outside. It doesn’t give it a mayonnaise taste, but it adds a sort of thin, crunchy crust to the entire sandwich. (Yes, you still use butter on the pan after spreading mayo on the bread. Yes, this is why we’re fat. WORTH IT.)

I really wanted some leftover onion soup, but the sandwich was completely filling, and I had to admit, I was truly stuffed. So I just ate the sandwiches the kids didn’t eat. Whatever, I went running this morning. Whatever!

***

FRIDAY
Giant pancake with chocolate chips, scrambled eggs

I felt guilty about something last week, I forget what, so I bought a bag of chocolate chips.

Giant pancake, if you don’t know, is this: You take an entire box of pancake mix and add enough water to make thick batter. Butter a pan, spread the batter in, and bake at 350 for ten minutes or so. Serve in wedges and go lie down. Bring a stick of butter with you, just in case.

What’s for supper? Vol. 82: And two hard boiled eggs

You know, this isn’t the way I always imagined an ocean voyage. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and provolone in pita pockets; spicy fries; raw broccoli

I do love grilled pita pockets. I grilled them in butter. They are so cozy and filling.

***

SUNDAY
Steak, salad, strawberry rhubarb pie with whipped cream

Irene’s First Holy Communion and Mother’s Day! We’ve had so many parties lately, we decided Sunday would be just us chickens. Irene had a very good morning.

We planned to spend the day gardening, but it was, SIGH SIGH SIGH, windy and raining and snowing. So we made some pie together

This is Irene’s Happy Pie face. The kid just loves pie. She gave everyone mini pies from Walmart for Christmas. I think it was her early exposure to Amelia Bedelia. She just loves pie! And so do I.

I made the lattice one. I wove it for a while, then got bored and just started slapping bits of dough on. Irene’s crust was made of hearts and ducks, much like her soul.

We used this recipe from the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook. It was new to me, and really did taste old fashioned, especially the crust, which had a pleasantly sharp, salty flavor. The crust turned out pretty light and flaky. It was a little hard to work with, but it added more to the overall taste of the dish than the typical bland crust. I did use the neat trick of freezing the butter and then grating it with a cheese grater, so it’s very easy to incorporate it into the flour without overhandling it.

Damien made everyone steaks. I like mine so rare, you can have a conversation with it while you eat.

 

Raise your hand if this picture makes you feel uncomfortable! Too bad! It was my mother’s day! And the steak was delicious. (And I had a lovely, lovely day, all day, thank you. Many wonderful gifts and thoughtful attentions.)

***

MONDAY
Pork ramen, coconut rice, peas

Delicious, but more of a hassle than expected, probably because I had to make so much of it. (It was simplified somewhat with the beloved Instant Pot, because I could cook the meat and vegetables, deglaze, and finish the broth all in one pot. Sometimes having even one fewer pot to wash is a big freaking deal.) I found a complicated recipe and simplified it, thus:

Sear some pork ribs in olive oil until browned on all sides. Take pork out, slice very thin, set aside. Add a coarsely chopped onion, about eight cloves of minced garlic, and a few scoops of ginger paste. Saute to brown. Add a cup of chicken broth to deglaze. Add seven more cups of broth, plus 8-10 oz. sliced mushrooms, and return pork to pot. Slow cook for several hours.

Just before dinner, have a kid cook a giant bunch of ramen noodles and some soft boiled eggs.

To serve, put ramen in individual bowls, ladle pork and broth over that, add a few halves of eggs, and throw something green on top. We happened to have some zombie scallions.

It was tasty and satisfying, and the pork was very tender after cooking all day. I adore thin slices of pork in soup.

For the coconut rice, I use this Instant Pot recipe from This Old Gal, who loves unnecessary complications. I have had about enough of This Old Gal. I did have coconut milk and coconut cream, but not toasted coconut or coconut sugar. I am skeptical there is actually something called coconut sugar.

The rice was pleasant, but not amazing. Who has a recipe that makes lovely, sticky coconut rice like in a Thai restaurant? Wanty.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

I have no memory of Tuesday.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken blueberry salad

Salad meals are my favorite. This recipe comes from The Blueberry Council, which, surely:

I wish I had chopped up the greens smaller, to integrate them more with the other ingredients, rather than making a bed for them to lie on, but the combination of flavors and textures was excellent.

So: mixed greens, broiled chicken, blueberries, blue cheese, red onions, and toasted nuts (we had walnuts and almonds. There must have been a nut sale at some point. Again, I highly recommend taking the extra few minutes to toast the nuts); and a sweetish dressing made of olive oil, wine vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

I served everything in separate bowls. To my delight, most of the kids chose to include blue cheese and onions in theirs. When I was that age, the harshly challenging flavor of something exotic, like yellow mustard, would have sent me into howling despair, but my kids are so much more adventurous. I never insist they eat anything, but I do keep serving things that I think are yummy, and I offer it to everyone every time. And here they are eating onions and blue cheese! I did a thing!

***

THURSDAY
Nachos

Not my finest hour. My plan was very basic: tortilla chips, ground meat and pre-made taco spice, jarred cheese substance, and salsa on the side.

I had to run out unexpectedly, so I directed the meat cooking and draining via cell phone, which turned out to be only slightly less nerve-wracking for both parties than when a passenger has to step up and land a damaged airplane with the help of a pilot on the ground.

Then I dashed home and dashingly forgot that the label said not to heat the cheese in the jar. Why? Because, we discovered, it balloons up like a ghastly yellow nightmare, then collapses into a rubbery hunk. Excuse me, rubbery hunk olé.

Then I set the chips on fire.

If you’re wondering why I never clean my oven: I do. I just immediately follow the cleaning with another spill. Then I set some chips on fire.

***

FRIDAY
Penne with jarred sauce

Assuming I can figure out how to open a jar.

It occurs to me that a few of my readers may not be familiar with the phrase “and two hard boiled eggs.” Let’s fix that right now:

What’s for supper? Vol. 13: Women Who Love Soup Too Much

whats for supper

SATURDAY
CHILE RELLENO CHICKEN SOUP; CORN BREAD

Saturday is the only day I came close to cooking anything interesting. THIS WAS INTERESTING.

The recipe I used called for roasted poblano peppers, which I’ve never used before. The supermarket’s labels weren’t clear, and I wasn’t completely sure the peppers I chose would be hot enough. They sure looked pretty, though, especially after roasting, which I did under the oven broiler:

food blog roasted peppers

Then I took off the seeds and stems and as much of the skin as possible, and put them in the blender, still worrying that it was going to be too bland.

As soon as I opened the blender lid, everyone’s eyes started to water and everyone’s nose started to run, and everyone in the kitchen started to choke and gag. It was spicyin the same way that the Grand Canyon is deep: Technically, that’s an accurate adjective, but you don’t really grasp the full import of the word until you’re standing at the edge and you can’t actually breathe for a minute.

I started to feel a little nervous about my soup at this point. But at least I knew I had the right kind of pepper.

So I got the rest of the ingredients in and let it simmer for a while, and once it was heated through, the retching subsided, and the kitchen smelled less like, “I said, LET MY PEOPLE GO!” and more like, “Perhaps we can market this as a homeopathic remedy for sinus patients.”

By the time I mixed in the cheddar and the cream cheese, it smelled like the place that poblano peppers go when they have been very, very good.

Verdict: I ate about three gallons of it. I had to steel myself before every spoonful, but it was magnificently worth it. If I serve it again, I’ll have something cooling to eat in between, like slices of mango. We made do with bananas.

UPDATE: Thanks to some sleuthing from my  Facebook friends, I now know that these were most likely scotch bonnets, not poblanos. That explains a thing or two.

The corn bread, I made a double recipe of the one on the side of the corn meal canister, but I decreased the sugar a bit.

food blog corn bread recipe

Also, if you run a pat of butter all over the top of the corn bread as soon as you pull it out of the oven, it gives it a nice sheen.

I like this cornbread recipe because (a) you make it all in one bowl; and (b) everything is in half, quarter, or whole cups. So if you have one of those kitchens where you know you have six or seven sets of cup measures scattered around somewhere, but all you can find is a quarter cup measure, you can still manage fine. If all you can find is a third of a cup, though, you are oodscray.

 

SUNDAY
FAMILY BIRTHDAY PARTY!

Left the kids with three pizzas and Damien and Corrie and I went to my brother Jacob’s house for his birthday, where we had chicken and broccoli divan with rice. Must get my sister-in-law’s recipe — it was delicious. A happy day.

food blog jacob party 1

 

I hope when my kids grow up, they will have parties like this together, with tons of food and tons of kids, and a very pleasant doggie.

I brought four apple pies.

food blog apple pies 1

I’ve been having the worst time with pie crust lately, so I made a streusel topping, and it turned out fine.  I also made twice as much as I need, so I have the extra stored in the fridge for later.

Streusel topping:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter

Rub the dry ingredients into the butter and cut with a butter knife until it’s all crumbly. Sprinkle over pies and bake as usual. 

For Thanksgiving, I’m gonna try again to make a decorative crust, though. Here’s a short video with 20 ideas for decorative crimps on pie crust. A few are brilliant:

Also, I want that green bracelet.

 

MONDAY
BEEF BARLEY SOUP; BISCUITS (from a can)

I never get tired of this soup. Basic recipe here. This week, I used steak (which was cheaper than soup meat, in the quantities I wanted); canned tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms, barley, beef broth, lots of garlic and red pepper flakes and freshly -ground black pepper. Don’t forget, barley isn’t like pasta, and takes a good forty minutes to cook all the way through.

There should be a name for that sensuous moment when the first ingredients start to sizzle and the sound, smell, and sight envelop you in a cloud of fragrant soup anticipation.

food blog soup meat

I Googled “sensuous vs. sensual” just to be on the safe side, but let’s be honest, it’s kinda both. I really like soup.

My only comment about the biscuits is that some people live in houses where otherpeople hear the oven timer beeping, and they just turn it off and walk away without telling anyone that the timer went off. This is not in the best interest of the biscuits.

food blog irene biscuits

 

TUESDAY
HOT DOGS; CHIPS; RAW VEGGIES; LEFTOVER APPLE PIE

Tuesday was a blur. Much of this week was a blur.  My  husband said, “When I think about your afternoon driving routine, I just get mad!”  I did chop up a giant platter of raw veggies, which we ate for three days for lunches and snacks as well as dinner. I’ll spare you the story of the French onion dip with the hole in the bottom, and of all the poor French onion dip-related decisions I made while leading up to the discovery that it was moldy anyway.

 

WEDNESDAY
NACHOS; HOT DOGS; AVOCADOS; GRITS

My 13-year-old son was in heaven. Nachos and hot dogs? Nachos AND hot dogs????

Also, grits are the best. Little butter and salt? Num num num.

 

THURSDAY
GRILLED CHICKEN AND SALAD; HARD BOILED EGGS

Chicken breasts were $1.77 a pound! Haven’t seen it that low for years. I made a quickie marinade out of veg oil, wine vinegar, garlic powder, salt, fresh pepper, and dried parsley, and was really surprised at how tasty it was. Just douse the chicken in the dressing and put it under the broiler for 20 minutes or so, turning it once.  Let it rest a minute, then slice it up and serve it over a green salad.
This is my Meal of Great Virtue, with the lean meat and the fresh greens. The kids compensate by smothering it in creamy dressings.

I don’t know why I made eggs. I think I just noticed we had six boxes of eggs in the fridge, and that seemed silly.  Anyway, we got all protetin’d up for the night.

 

FRIDAY
I GUESS SPAGHETTI

I’m pre-resting on my laurels for all the wonderful things we’re going to have for Thanksgiving. I’ll probably do a food post sometime before Thursday next week, in case people want to share recipes before the actual day. That makes more sense, right?

Question of the week: Do you like Thanksgiving? Why or why not?